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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Reconstructing our campus

ALEXA FONTANILLA / AGGIE
ALEXA FONTANILLA / AGGIE

An update on the construction in the Tercero residence hall area

In July 2015, demolition of Leach Hall in Tercero led to “Tercero Phase Four” (TP4), an ongoing effort to create new buildings in Tercero. Phase four will feature three new four-story buildings, one large community space building, a music room, a recreational room, a community kitchen, office spaces and a meeting room for future seminars.

“We broke it up into three phases — first [was] the demolition of the existing buildings, second [was] installing all the underground utilities, so everything you don’t see when the project is completed [that] is in the ground [and third was when] they broke ground and started putting for the buildings themselves [in September 2015],” said Michael Head, project manager of design and construction management.

Head coordinates with his team, the architects and the contractor each week in order to make sure that the project remains on schedule. The construction of the buildings has been relatively smooth, Head said, so the team has dealt with few challenges along the way. In one area of construction, Head and his team faced the challenge of digging up pea gravel, which is small gravel that runs off the sides like sand.

“That was a challenge,” Head said. “When [problems] arise it is [about] how everyone works together to get them resolved. Communication is key in a project like this.”

The new residence halls are estimated to house around 500 new students, compared to the 175 students Leach Hall previously housed.

“The campus growth plan is continuing to move forward based on the enrollment numbers we’re getting from the Office of the President,” said Brendan Pettit, director of the office of student development. “So, with the additional freshmen and transfer students coming to our campus, it will be important that we provide housing [for them and] make sure we’re meeting the demand.”

TP4 is scheduled to be completed and open for incoming freshmen in Fall of 2017.

 “It shouldn’t affect [incoming freshmen] too much [since] most of the exterior work is already complete,” Petitt said. “The workers are working during the day when the students are up or at class. This fall, most of the work will be done on the interior of the buildings, so most of the noise will be mitigated.”

The new residence hall buildings of TP4 will be similar to the existing Tercero dorms and the Alder, Thompson and Miller buildings in Segundo. These buildings all feature cluster-style housing, where a couple of rooms in a hallway form a cluster and share one restroom space. These clusters then become small communities all connected to each other.

Like existing residence halls in Tercero, Segundo and Cuarto, the new residence halls will also feature Living Learning Communities (LLC). The specific LLCs will not be determined until later this school year.

“The collaboration with all our campus partners will determine what will go in those buildings,” Petitt said. “[LLCs] could be based on major, gender, cultural identity [and] special [interests] like music arts and performance. There’s a big variety.”

TP4 is also a LEED registered project under the LEED green building certification program. The program promotes a sustainable approach and recognizes performance is five areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. A LEED registered project could receive one of four LEED rating levels: certified, silver, gold and platinum.

“We’re going for gold,” Head said.

In addition to TP4, the dining commons (DC) in Tercero are also under renovation and should be ready to open this fall. The Tercero DC renovation had been planned for almost two years, but early construction took place in March 2016. Among the renovations was the upgrade in the mechanical system in a separate building immediately to the left of the dining commons. These systems, originally installed in the 1960’s, provide domestic hot water, heating hot water, domestic cold water and steam. The air handling units in the main buildings were also replaced.

Additionally, the student lounge on the first floor of the DC has been converted into new dining seating for the increased amount of students in Tercero. Likewise, a new elevator was installed in the building to make it easier to transport dishes from the first to second floor.

“[The renovations] will provide a newer environment in the dining area to provide more capacity for folks to come and get their meals,” said Morgan Meier, project manager of design and construction management. “Hopefully it just serves more students — that was really the intent.”

The new buildings are estimated to be completed by Fall Quarter 2017.

 

Written by: Fatima Siddiqui — features@theaggie.org

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